The weekend Au Bord De L'eau celebrated its fifth year in existence on July 1st/2nd/ 3rd July 2011. This is a great achievement considering this underground and progressive festival is competing with big budget festivals. The fact that they are attracting pioneering acts from all over the world to a remote and traditional part of Switzerland is to be noted. Sierre is located in the 'Valais' area of Switzerland, famous for its quaint traditions, obvious beauty and charming indulgences. Indeed even Swiss people find it hard to believe that something as contemporary as Au Bord De L'eau even exists and are intrigued to find that people would travel far and wide to visit this abundant, cute and remote place. I guess the success of this project really comes down to the effort and brain of Christophe Zwissig whose vision and focus has created a true festival, in the old sense of community spirit, in a genuinely pristine setting.
The fifth addition of Au Bord De L'eau was the most successful to date and finally confirming that this festival is a contender on an international level. Chris is part of the Fun & Floor crew, who are a community collective and hold a monthly club night in Sierre at the Hacienda. Au Bord De L'eau is the 'big one' for the year that pays for the continuation of the project. What's wonderful about the Fun & Floor crew is that they have created this event as willing volunteers. This element certainly keeps the festival original, progressive and positive. From the inception of Au Bord De L'eau, it has not been easy, due the traditionalist values of the area and the limited mentality of some locals. However due to the crew's commitment and the integrity of Christophe, they have managed to create a festival that attracted four thousand visitors this year.
There is no doubt that Sierre is a beautiful place and Au Bord De L'eau (translated by the lake) is truly set in a stunning location. Located by the green, crystal clear Lake Géronde and surrounded by mountains, it certainly makes for a most ideal site to hold a festival. Let's not forget the joyous indulgences that we can sometimes forget that Switzerland has to offer. Due to the climate and land space, Sierre offers an abundance of wine, good weather and great quality food.
However it's the assured focus of Christophe Zwissig that ensures we get a quality experience and satisfying musical education. It was great to see that three English guys on their European trip made a special effort to attend the fifth Au Bord De L'eau. Not knowing about the festival previously, but attracted to the site due to the pictures of the area and the line up, they did indeed make it and had a brilliant time. So it shows Au Bord De L'eau is starting to attract even more people far and wide.
Indeed the line up has a lot to do with the credibility of this festival. The line up for 2011 included upcoming acts such as Belleruche, Oy and Imperial Tiger Orchestra to serious worldwide pioneers such as Quantic, Jazzanova, Kid Koala, Motor City Drum Ensemble and Goldfish. What's clear is that the line up has been seriously considered and realising that the festival is working at a community level, rather than a commercial level, this line up should definitely be applauded. With one stage it ensures the focus for the whole festival is on same musical tip together and there's no intention of expanding in this area as the central focus creates the unified spirit of the festival.
Also the attention to detail at the site itself creates a real Swiss quality that makes for a great experience. The ethic is eco-friendly with a real drive to be respectful and clean to the environment. There are stands from the local university to educate people about this and provide welfare for the attendees. The focus on 'flip flop' vibe created from Havaianans, the main sponsor, gives you the feeling of being on holiday. With selection of world foods, great drinks and the option to cool down in the lake or go on a Tuk Tuk make for a genuine holiday experience. Other cool aspects of the festival are fantastic creations by Pierrot balloons, the outstanding visuals and lighting and we can't forget the traditional game of Pétanque that features heavily as a tournament throughout the event!
So how about Au Bord De L'eau? How was it for me? It was a great experience and it's not a surprise to me that Alex from Jazzanova sincerely stated it was one of the best festivals around. Philip Andereggen, Joe 90 from Futureboogie, Imperial Tiger Orchestra, Belleruche, Kid Koala and Quantic all played on Friday as well, to an enthusiastic and jubilant crowd. Indeed there were some standout moments with excellent skills from Kid Koala, an impressive performance from Belleruche and a cool set from Joe 90. It was a real achievement for the Fun & Floor crew to have Quantic as the headliner that they were proud of.
On Saturday Tal Stef & Ben G opened the day and they were followed by performences from Jazzanova, DJ Joh from Switzerland, Prommer & Barck (that was a personal favourite of mine at the festival), a very cool live performance from Tortured Soul and a truly attentive and happy crowd for South African progressive band Goldfish. Motor City Drum Ensemble vs Rainer Truby finished Saturday with some deep house!
Sunday was a truly chilled day. German DJ Funk Ya Mind, a regular at Au Bord De L'eau set the tone for the hot afternoon with some pumping youthful tunes, next up were upcoming local talent Who's Next who gave us a lesson in live virtuoso jazz playing, adding a nice vibe to the day. With a cool live display from Nemoy and Montreux discovered artist Oy, gave the festival a truly Swiss feel. Regulars to Sierre, A.S.M finished the event with some live hip hop. After their gig it was clear to me that Au Bord De L'eau is genuinely a future thinking festival.
So to summarise Au Bord De L'eau is a great festival. The combination of ethical thinking, quality control and a genuine musical passion from the creators ensures that Au Bord De L'eau has the potential to continue for another five years. The community spirit and ethos by the Fun & Floor crew is what sets this festival apart from other commercial festivals. Without the reliance to conform to the money orientated desires of commercialism means that Au Bord De L'eau keeps its integrity and this community ensures the festival is for the benefit of the locals, so is therefore a true festival in the traditional sense. It was great to meet so many parents of the volunteers enjoying the event too, making this festival accessible to everyone in the community and ensuring everyone was welcomed. This created a lovely, warm and safe family feel. These factors combined with the usual great weather in Sierre, the fun aplomb of the Valais mentality and natural stunning location made the fifth edition Au Bord De L'eau a definite contender!
The future of Au Bord De L'eau is positive. With no desire to expand beyond what is fitting for the environment but with a natural desire to improve the quality, we could see this festival become more hip with the right sponsorship or more underground for the upcoming. Whatever happens Switzerland should be proud of this offering to the world. The timing also allows anyone in the area to pass by Montreux Jazz Festival that I visited on my way to the airport in Geneva. All the experiences gained on this trip to Au Bord De L'eau certainly gave me something I wouldn't have got anywhere else in the world. Cool!